Wisconsin Gov. (and recently announced Republican presidential candidate) Scott Walker signed a budget bill Sunday that will allow certain students with disabilities to use public dollars to pay for private school.
The provision will start in the 2016-17 school year and will be worth $12,000 in that first year. It can be used by students who attended a Wisconsin public school for at least one year and who had been rejected from enrolling as a nonresident in another school district under Wisconsin's open-enrollment policy.
Nonresident students can be denied a transfer for several reasons, including a lack of space, a history of habitual truancy or expulsion, or requirement of special education services that aren't currently offered by the district they want to transfer into. (The state's education department is facing a lawsuit that says the Wisconsin students with disabilities have been denied open-enrollment placements solely because of their need for special services.)
In the new voucher program, private schools would have to agree to implement the child's individualized education program, as modified by agreement between the student's parents and the private school. Also, the child's district of residence will be required to evaluate the child every three years, unless the parent and the district agree otherwise. The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a nonpartisan agency that provides fiscal analysis to state lawmakers, has a document that spells out all of the provisions of the Wisconsin special education voucher program.